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On This Day (31 May 1909): Sunderland forwards the toast of the country as England beat Hungary

England continued their run of victories away from home with an 8-2 walloping of Hungary in the Millenaris Stadium in Budapest.

Whilst Spurs centre forward and England captain Viv Woodward took the headlines with a four-goal haul, there was a lot to celebrate in the North-east with two Sunderland players making their mark on this game.

George Holley grabbed two goals and Arthur Bridgett followed up his goal in the previous match two days earlier against the same opposition, with a typically unselfish/creative performance.

This was only second the second time England had toured abroad - Bridgett had played (and scored) on the inaugural tour in 1908 and brought a good deal of this experience with him.

Hungary were considered one of the best teams outside of the UK but were undone this day by an England team who would not be denied.

What do we know about these two England internationalist and Sunderland legends from a bygone era a 114 years ago?

George Holley was born in Seaham Harbour and would go on to collect ten England caps scoring eight goals. He made his debut for Sunderland on 27th December 1904 against Sheffield Wednesday and went on to make 315 appearances usually at inside-left, scoring a remarkable 154 goals for the Lads. He was Sunderland’s top scorer in five separate seasons and played in the 1912/13 FA Cup final, where the league and cup double was almost …… but not quite won by the Lads. Holley was lauded as an amazing ball artist, but also had great consistency in performance. He scored nine hat-tricks in total for Sunderland and joins Gary Rowell as a hattrick scorer against Newcastle in the 9-1 victory at St James Park in 1908.

Holley followed up his two goals against Hungary with another two, the very next day against Austria in the 8-1 victory over another international team considered one of the better teams outside of the UK.

Arthur Bridgett was a bit of a character to say the least! The Staffordshire born lad was also a lay preacher, who refused to play on Christmas day and Good Friday. He primarily played as a left wing and along with his unselfish style of play he had a great turn of speed and was a very accurate crosser of the ball.

He made his debut on 17/01/1903 against Sheffield United and went on to play a total of 347 games for Sunderland scoring 119 goals in all competitions.

He was also on the score sheet against Newcastle in 1908, netting two of the nine Sunderland goals. He scored three goals in eleven England appearances and remained Sunderland’s record England cap winner until Dave Watson surpassed him on 11th May 1975.

Despite moving into management with both South Shields (and later North Shields) following an eleven-year gap away from league football, he returned to play for Port Vale in the 1923/24 season and scored within ninety seconds of his debut.

Bridgett and Holley formed an extremely effective partnership down Sunderland and England’s left flank, gentlemen of a by-gone era their contribution to Sunderland AFC history over a century ago is worthy of note.

Their four England caps played together recorded a remarkable total of twenty-two goals scored by the team (including six between Holley and Bridgett) however it would not be until 1921 before England would play again outside of the UK.


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